UNITED NATIONS (AP) -- A new U.N. study predicts the next 50 years will bring a world that is larger, older and poorer.
The world, 6.1 billion people strong today, is anticipated to reach 9.3 billion by 2050, the U.N. Population Division estimated in a report issued Wednesday. The world's poorest nations will triple in size. Nine of every 10 people will live in a developing country, one of six in India alone.
Meanwhile, Europe and Japan will see their populations plummet, forcing them to rethink immigration policies and adjust social services to accommodate a shrinking work force and a growing elderly population, said Joseph Chamie, director of the U.N. Population Division.
"Virtually all of this growth is in the developing world -- and a good part of it is in the poorest countries," he said.
Growth will be phenomenal in Africa, much of Asia and Latin America, the study projected. The United States, with a fresh influx of 1 million immigrants a year, will grow -- to nearly 400 million at mid-century from 283 million today, it said.
Europe, in contrast, will start seeing a decline as early as 2003 without migration. .
Last year, the 15 European Union nations together recorded a natural population growth -- births minus deaths -- of 343,000. It took India just a week to match that. Like China, India is already burdened by a population of 1 billion. It is anticipated to have 600 million more people by 2050.
Fifty years ago, Europe claimed 22 percent of the world population, Africa just 8 percent. Today, they stand even at about 13 percent. But in 50 years, Africa will have three times as many people as Europe, even with AIDS-related deaths.
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